A “Do Not Track” List?

We’ll see — note that even the process of opt-out includes other opt-ins, and there’s still the chimerical hope that ads will be better-targeted — which puts us right back where we started: Online Marketers Joining Internet Privacy Efforts — pdf

Most consumers are familiar with do-not-call lists, which are meant to keep telemarketers from phoning them. Soon people will be able to sign up for do-not-track lists, which will help shield their Web surfing habits from the prying eyes of marketers.

Such lists will not reduce the number of ads that people see online, but they will prevent advertisers from using their online meanderings to deliver specific ad pitches to them.

[…] There is a silver lining for marketers, however: the AOL site will try to persuade people that they should choose to share some personal data in order to get pitches for products they might like. Most Web sites, including AOL, already collect data about users to send them specific ads — but AOL is choosing to become more open about the practice and will run advertisements about it in coming months.

Consumers who have already seen some benefits from online tracking systems — in the form of movie recommendations from Netflix, perhaps, or product recommendations from Amazon — might warm to AOL’s argument.

“Instead of having interruptive ads, instead of jarring things that will grab your attention, things are hopefully tailored to be suitable to your experience,” said Jules Polonetsky, the chief privacy officer for AOL. “We think tailoring advertising content in a way that is useful is a good proposition.”